Sunday’s match against Atletico Madrid will be very special for Athletic midfielder, Raul Garcia. The 30-year-old spent over a decade of his career playing at the Vicente Calderon, which will close its doors for good after this weekend’s match. On Thursday, he spoke with El Correo and made it clear that whether or not Ernesto Valverde stays at Athletic, his time at the club has been special.
“The Mister, regardless of whether he continues here or not, brought a great era to the club that should always be remembered. He has led the team to very good seasons and always competing for Europe, which isn’t easy. He is also a coach with a very clear idea and he knows how to transmit what he wants to the players. Valverde’s achievements speak for themselves.”If Valverde does leave the club this summer, Bilbao Athletic manager Cuco Ziganda is expected to take his place. Raul Garcia played under Ziganda while at Osasuna and had nothing but positive things to say about the potential coach. According to the midfielder, he’s the best man for the job.
“I’ve already had him as a coach, both at the reserve level and in the first team. He is a coach that I am familiar with and he’s well equipped to coach Athletic Club or any team. If in the end Valverde does not continue, Cuco is better adapted to take over than anyone and we are familiar with him. I don’t have to give him an endorsement because he’s done that himself. Maybe he isn’t as well known in the Primera, but he has accomplished many things. It’s true that lately he’s been more of a developer, but he’s done very well because we have players joining the first team. But I’ll tell you, I’ve played under him, and he is more than qualified to coach a team like ours.”
Since joining Athletic, Raul Garcia has seen his former club remain very competitive in every competition. The 30-year-old was asked if he still feels that joining the Basque giants was the right move, which isn’t even a question to him.
“Yes, of course. I am a person who when I make a decision it is because I am totally convinced. Since arriving here, day to day, I am seeing that joining Athletic was the right decision. That doesn’t take away from me being happy for Atletico. I have always said, regardless of where I am, that I wish them well. But still, I am at Athletic and my job is to help the team win on Sunday. I don’t regret the move because I am very happy at Athletic.”
Sunday’s match will decide Athletic Club’s European fate. The Lions are currently tied with Real Sociedad for sixth in the table, but do hold the tie breaker. As long as they remain at least level on points, Athletic will qualify for the Europa League. If not, Ernesto Valverde’s side will have to rely on Barcelona beating Alaves in the Copa del Rey to enter to the qualifying round of the tournament.